Redlands Business & Society Blog

News and Views from the University of Redlands School of Business & Society

How Ethical Decision-Making Drives Business

Effective, purposeful leadership requires a connection to an ambitious vision and a willingness to make decisions that help teams achieve goals specific to the vision. Purposeful business leaders also clearly and explicitly communicate their values and demonstrate those values to pursue that vision.

Values-driven leadership is more important than ever. Today’s business landscape can be an ethics minefield. Customer data collection can open the door to privacy breaches. Leveraging the power of technology to better understand consumer behavior can lead to discrimination. Choosing suppliers with poor labor practices can expose companies legally and financially. The list goes on. Moreover, unethical behavior is easily made public, negatively affecting reputations, the brand, and the bottom line.

Complex business decisions about products, people, finances, safety, security, and environmental issues that concern stakeholders, employees, and communities require strong ethical reasoning. This type of reasoning is a values-based, character‐driven process that enables business leaders to ensure that every step of their company’s value chain (e.g., supply-chain, product development, sales, operations) is conducted in a responsible fashion. Moreover, it advances “doing the right thing” as a standard decision-making process and culture, rather than as solely concerned with avoiding ethical scandals. Business leaders who make ethical decisions do so by deep reflection and thoughtful appreciation of the moral and ethical responsibilities they have to their organizations and society.

Business ethics as part of a well-rounded business education is important to the development of critical thinking skills that sustain business practices. Business ethics has been a cornerstone of the School of Business & Society for decades, and the curriculum is constantly being updated to reflect contemporary business ethics issues and challenges. Our students highly value the approach our school takes, which emphasizes the practical skills needed for ethical management and implications for a broad range of stakeholders.

Our Ethical Decision-Making Pillar

“Purposeful business leaders need to be comfortable with uncertainty and have the capability to be reflective and apply critical thinking to their decision-making without necessarily having all the facts,” says Carlo Carrascoso, professor and director of the Banta Center for Ethical and Purposeful Leadership. “They learn to think of their values, minimizing losses or harms, increasing benefits or gains, the broader societal issues at play and consider those in all aspects of leadership,” he further asserts.

We provide an academically rigorous experience that helps students develop ethical decision-making skills and gives them practical tools they can use in their current jobs. Students master these skills through sustained application in all courses. We work with students to help them understand that effective leadership is less about not doing something unethical but more about having the confidence to respond to ethical dilemmas conscientiously and to make honorable decisions. “Businesses often make ethical choices by weighing costs and benefits,” says professor Riaz Tejani. “Our aim is to sharpen and refine the tools for measuring these. A benefit from one angle often leads to significant costs from another, and our courses offer students the advantage of seeing this early in their decision-making.”

We also established the Banta Center for Ethical and Purposeful Leadership to offer students a forum for conversation, inquiry, and debate on ethical and purposeful leadership. In addition, our curriculum across the Redlands School of Business & Society is infused with case studies, simulations, and guest speakers who talk about how to shape an ethical workplace culture to help students develop a keen sense of ethics and responsibility in business leadership.

Preparing Ethical Business Leaders

By taking a business and society approach to business education, we prepare students to advocate for behavior that informs an ethical workplace. That’s what business leadership is all about. Our focus on purposeful leadership helps our graduates in everything from self-management to team management to representing an organization in society. Our curriculum is designed to help our graduates leverage purpose, ethics, and passion to cultivate an ethical framework for business decision-making and effectively lead organizations using socially responsible business practice.

Learn more about the University of Redlands School of Business & Society and how we develop purposeful and ethical leaders to make a positive, real-world impact on business and society.